The role of a press secretary

Read the whole thing here. Seriously. It's awesome. Then come back here.

In other news

Last 5 posts by Clark

Comments

  1. Joe Pullen says

    ◾in the US ignorance of a law is not an excute

    in the US ignorance of a law will get you executed.

    There fixed that for you.

  2. Lurker says

    Ignorantia does have exceptions. The main one is when expecting someone to know the law would have been unreasonable. See Lambert v. California. It is arguable that secret laws have no legal force (this has never gone before SCOTUS to my knowledge though)

  3. says

    @Lucy

    What can we do about all this?

    My lawyer has forbidden me to answer that question with anything other than a tight fake smile and empty platitudes.

  4. Xenocles says

    I imagine if you run afoul of a secret law you will never be allowed to argue your case openly – thus either no open court ruling would issue or your effort to argue your case would be hopelessly hobbled from the start since everything you would want to bring up would be secret.

    The idea of a secret law is anathema to a republic supposedly founded on the idea that power is delegated to the government by the people. Of course, that has no bearing on whether you can be killed under the authority of one.

  5. says

    "the IRS has been selectively discriminating against groups based on their politics. The administration first laughed at the allegation, then said that it was a few bad apples at a regional branch. It later came out that"

    Came out that what?

    Oh, I guess you'll tell us …um …later?

  6. Moebius Street says

    On the IRS point, you end with "it later came out that". I think you forgot to write something there.

    Otherwise, great post.

  7. JPL says

    Social Security is not an "unfunded mandate", I personally fund it (in very small part) every two weeks. Yes some measures of government debt exclude it, but others don't.

  8. Xenocles says

    @Clark- Surely you can find a viler act from the FDR years than a failed attempt to pack the court.

  9. C. S. P. Schofield says

    Lucy;

    It is possible to affect the progress of politics in this country, but it will take longer than most people are willing to work on it. Pushback on Gun Control took a long time. The Abolitionist movement existed when the Country was founded, and took until the Civil War to really bear fruit. The Temperance movement also took a long time (during which it went from Temperance to Dry, and thus disemboweled itself). Hell, it took 13 YEARS to repeal Prohibition, which was pretty clearly a mongolian clusterf*ck from the first year.

    NOTHING HAPPENS FAST in a representative system. Things didn't get this bad overnight (no matter how many people with Bush- or Clinton- Derangement Syndrome tell you otherwise). Things won't be fixed in one election cycle or even ten.

    Indeed, things are already changing. The omnipresence of video recording is bringing police abuses to the attention of the public, and attempts by The Authorities to clamp down on it have been met with no public sympathy (at least that I am aware of). I don't know if this will translate to what I hope for (an end to immunity for police misconduct), but I'm hopeful. There was a time when Home Schooling was so rare that its proponents could be treated as fanatics by The Authorities. Now it has such a large presence that such efforts seem to backfire politically.

    Get active. Even discussing it in the internet is SOMETHING. Don't expect big changes overnight. Hang on. Read history for perspective (the Roman satirist Juvenal is good for this; he might be complaining about New York in the 1970's instead of Rome under Caesar Augustus). Above all, remember that, given power with few if any checks on it, even people who agree with US will be buttinskies who meddle in matters that are none of their goddsdamned business. That's just human nature.

  10. says

    @C. S. P. Schofield

    NOTHING HAPPENS FAST in a representative system.

    Nor do they happen fast in the system we have.

  11. Paul Ritter says

    @Clark – Don't forget that the full roll call on the Amash Amendment vote has been released, and it shows "polar opposites" John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi teaming up to vote this down. Bi-partisanship is alive and well as long as the goal is the preservation of the government's hard-earned power.

  12. says

    Non-polemical request for clarification:

    • What percentage of people approached by police are tased?
    • What percentage of people tased by police die?
    • What differentiates hardware suitable for tactical police combat from hardware suitable for tactical military combat?
    • What expectation of privacy attends to a state-issued license plate in a public setting?
    • Do counts of the occurrence of waterboarding enumerate sessions or do they enumerate applications of water (40-second pours) within a single session?
    • What percentage of people approached by police are shot with pepper ball guns?
    • What percentage of people shot with pepper ball guns by police die?
    • What legal weight do diplomatic norms bear?
    • Is diplomacy not a discrete prerogative of the president?
  13. Chris K. says

    MOVE!

    Seriously. If you have the means. I don't mean that as a "love it or leave it" proposition. I mean it as this country is beyond repair, if you stay you are only committing further generations to the gulag.

    Get The Fuck Out.

    (said by someone who doesn't have the means, but if I did, I'd already be gone)

  14. says

    @Chris K.

    this country is beyond repair, if you stay you are only committing further generations to the gulag.

    Get The Fuck Out.

    The US is a global government, with a reach that controls every square meter except inside Iran and North Korea.

    If I'm subject to Roman Law I might as well live in Rome where at least my vote counts, the bathhouses are clean and the water is hot.

  15. says

    Having been to many other countries, most are worse. I have yet to find a country I would prefer to live in. This does not make anything that Clark said untrue.

  16. jb says

    What Kirk Taylor said. We have to fight for this country, because as bad as it is (a) other countries are largely worse and (b) in other countries, the fight is harder. We at least theoretically have the first amendment, separation of powers, etc.

    If freedom goes down here, there will be nowhere to run. Other places may, at the moment, happen to have policy outcomes that some prefer to ours (European healthcare on the one hand and attitudes toward online data privacy on the other, for example), but their protections for basic liberties are even less robust.

  17. says

    Wait, where's the cite on the #1 bullet, "all of your email is being intercepted by the government"?

    As far as I know, that hasn't been documented explicitly. The capability has been discussed via PRISM or just plain old DPI, but there hasn't been the equivalent of that order to Verizon to just turn everything over.

    Not that I'd be surprised to see it, but I do want to see it.

  18. Dan Weber says

    Yeah, SS is not an unfunded mandate, because it's not a mandate. Congress can terminate SS benefits at will. No Congress can bind another.

    Also, "secret laws" overstates the case. No one has been arrested and faced charges over anything the FISA court rules on. The evidence gathered cannot be used in any domestic trial. This is part of the problem: no one has ever had standing to challenge it, which they would if they were charged with a crime based on something that happened there.

    Maybe you think I'm nit picking. Very well. If you care about these issues, you need to care very much about all the details.

  19. says

    Isn't SS underfunded as opposed to unfunded? The money that comes out of my paycheck for SS had better go somewhere remotely related to SS…

  20. Jeremy says

    — SMBC is fantastic. Browse through their archived comics. One of the best modern comics I've seen. I consider it far better than XKCD.
    — My own internet non-scientific research puts true unemployment higher than 20%
    — If the U.S. public debt is only $53k per person, where do I sign up to pay off my share? I thought it was MUCH higher than this. Mind you, I expect that SS and Medicaid will not be available for me, so I would easily surrender those benefits.
    — Women don't know what they want in bed because parents don't get anything close to encouraging experimentation for their daughters. Sons need no such encouragement.

  21. mud man says

    Learn to grow vegetables. This is not a sarcastic comment or an empty platitude.

  22. Tarrou says

    LOL @ people counseling a move to escape the tyranny of the US. I can only assume they are unfamiliar with this strange entity known as "The Entire Rest of the World". Chris K, do take yourself to Russia, or Poland, or Saudi Arabia, or Niger. Or hell, even England, where a combination of defamation law, omnipresent public surveillance and the Official Secrets Act lay our own civil liberty struggles in the shade. Live there a few years to get a good feel, and see if you don't long for home.

  23. rabbitscribe says

    @ Adam:

    The money that comes out of my paycheck for SS had better go somewhere remotely related to SS…

    Oh. Well, it doesn't. How could it? You thought maybe there was a trillion-dollar passbook savings account out there somewhere? The government handles social security witholdings the same way it handles any other money: spends the hell out of it, then prints more.

  24. Jonathan says

    @David,

    How do you get those cool bullet points?

    I don't think all of your questions can realistically yield reliable answers. Is there a database somewhere that accurately records all instances of police encounters with citizens? Not that I am aware of. If not, then we can't really come up with a percentage of how many folks approached by the fuzz wind up tased by them. Same with the pepper-bagging

    For this and other reasons, I'm not sure if analyzing such encounters by percentages of violent incidents vs. non-violent incidents is a useful approach. It seems prone to hand wavy dismissals of very real abuses and crimes committed by the state.

    What expectation of privacy attends to a state-issued license plate in a public setting?

    Hopefully a significant one. If anything, the requirement to use state-issued license plates represents an invasion of privacy – I'm not sure how it justifies further intrusions on the same.

  25. says

    @David,
    How do you get those cool bullet points?

    <ul>
    <li>ALPHA</li>
    <li>BETA</li>
    </ul>

    I don't think all of your questions can realistically yield reliable answers.

    Indeed. And yet answers to questions such as those are necessary (but not sufficient) to figure out who's making hay in a polemical encounter. There's a difference between being informed by X and being spun by X, but insufficient information makes it difficult or impossible to tell these apart.

    For this and other reasons, I'm not sure if analyzing such encounters by percentages of violent incidents vs. non-violent incidents is a useful approach. It seems prone to hand wavy dismissals of very real abuses and crimes committed by the state.

    Perhaps. But then failing to assess the gravity of an abuse that has an incidence rate of, say, 0.00003% (a hundred per 330 million) may itself be the mark of a stubborn refusal to recognize astonishing success within reasonable margins.

    What expectation of privacy attends to a state-issued license plate in a public setting? Hopefully a significant one. If anything, the requirement to use state-issued license plates represents an invasion of privacy – I'm not sure how it justifies further intrusions on the same.

    If I walk through an unrestricted parking lot and write down some license plate numbers, am I violating anyone's rights?

  26. Noah Callaway says

    there are laws that you are subject to, but because they are secret laws you don't know what they are

    I agree with the vast majority of your points. I disagree about this one on a technicality. You are not subject to the secret laws (that we know about), you are the subject of them. The secret rulings expand the government's power, and how it can interact with you. However, the laws aren't binding on us.

    Granted, this is still an unacceptably fucked up situation. It is entirely unreasonable that the government is granting itself additional power, while being unwilling to even divulge the legal opinion that gets us there. I don't disagree with the core premise of this point – that secret rulings are incredibly damaging to the integrity of the state.

  27. darius404 says

    the US president reserves the right to pronounce a death penalty on any American and use drones to execute them; at least four murdered so far

    On this point I have to make a correction. This only applies to Americans outside the country. You are (purportedly) safe from summary execution as long as you never leave. Isn't that reassuring?

  28. Xoshe says

    David:

    Related to your second bullet (and inferred by your seventh), I would actually be highly interested in seeing the injury/death rates for all police "pacification" measures. While a taser is potentially dangerous, is it more or less dangerous then pepper spray or tear gas? Is it more or less dangerous then a baton or rubber bullets?

    I'm not suggesting that they're not dangerous devices, but it's nothing more then scaremongering to make a big deal about their use if you can't show they're more or less dangerous then what the police is already using.

  29. Kevin says

    @mud man

    Learn to grow vegetables. This is not a sarcastic comment or an empty platitude.

    I'm not sure what you're getting at here. Are you suggesting we grow cucumbers to use as makeshift truncheons/broom handles?

  30. mcinsand says

    @Xenocles, have you got a copy of 'FDR's Folly' by Powell? It's a great read and documented/referenced down to the details. We can be thankful that he did not get to pack the court. It was bad enough that he managed to extend what would have been a brief depression to last a full decade. Imagine what would have happened if he had removed more checks against his experiments in government overreach!

  31. En Passant says

    mud man wrote Jul 25, 2013 @8:35 am:

    Learn to grow vegetables. This is not a sarcastic comment or an empty platitude.

    Well intended candide advice no doubt. But Wickard v. Filburn and Gonzales v. Raich made that as illegal as any government bureaucrat decides it should be at any time.

  32. Rob says

    David: the problem isn't so much that the abuses happen (it's inevitable in a nation our size), but that they routinely go unpunished. Cops walk for things that would have us mere peons in jail, sometimes for life. Often they don't even lose their jobs. At most, they get a paid vacation courtesy the taxpayers, who also get to pay for the inevitable civil suit.

    I remember a case in Portland, OR a few years back where a cop got a call about a distraught man (his brother had just committed suicide). Did the cop pull up and talk to the guy, maybe call an ambulance to get him some professional help? Nope. The officer exited his police car and started firing bean bag rounds at him. The man was unarmed, not a threat to nor threatening anybody, and nothing precipitated this action by the police officer. The man understandably ran, at which point another cop shot him in the back with an AR-15 rifle. He claimed he saw a "furtive movement towards [the suspect's] waistband."

    To his credit, the mayor had the police chief terminate the officer who fired the lethal shots (though it's too bad he didn't also demand to have him arrested). The officer then sued the city, took the case to a police union arbiter, and got his job back.

    Instances like that are common. There's a commentator on the Hit & Run blog over at reason.com who links to multiple stories like that almost every single day. Radley Balko has also documented thousands of cases of cops getting off on behavior that should have resulted in jail time. It needs to stop.

  33. Jonathan says

    Indeed. And yet answers to questions such as those are necessary (but not sufficient) to figure out who's making hay in a polemical encounter. There's a difference between being informed by X and being spun by X, but insufficient information makes it difficult or impossible to tell these apart.

    I agree with the spirit of what you are saying, but stipulating answers which can't be found as a prerequisite to discussing the gravity of situations such as police abuse doesn't suggest a genuine engagement with the debate.

    I think questions that CAN yield answers that will inform the discussion exist. When abuse has happened, what has been the state response? I imagine the raw numbers of police encounters that have terminated with police-administered violence can be found, and would shed some light on the issue. Perhaps we could even see if these raw numbers are trending up or down.

    I don't think there is any question that the vast majority of police encounters with citizens do not end in police-administered violence. I imagine the same might well be true of totalitarian regimes throughout history. The key to me seems to be how those violent incidents are received both by the public and by the state. Is there a culture of acceptance within the public? Is it possible to receive timely redress for wrongs suffered at the hands of the state? Is there a culture of acceptance or permissiveness for these kinds of incidents within the state? What sort of policy initiatives are being undertaken by the state, how transparent are they, and what kind of impact can these policy initiatives be expected to have on, say, police departments, procedures, and behaviours?

    But then failing to assess the gravity of an abuse that has an incidence rate of, say, 0.00003% (a hundred per 330 million) may itself be the mark of a stubborn refusal to recognize astonishing success within reasonable margins.

    That may well be true, and I wouldn't dispute that throughout its history the US has done an admirable job of balancing the tension between public safety and private freedom. But Sorites is always hanging around, and the question is not if a free state can become an enslaved one, but if those grains are piling up and when that change actually happens.

    If I walk through an unrestricted parking lot and write down some license plate numbers, am I violating anyone's rights?

    Probably not but, if you are aiming your analogy at the license plate readers as I presume, I don't think your analogy really attains. If you somehow possessed the capacity to track my movements by recording my license plate all over town, I think you'd be engaging in more analogous activity, and I suspect you might be violating my rights. Even so, I think there are significant between private activity and the activity of the state, and the interaction of those classes of activity with my rights produces different legal and moral results.

  34. NI says

    I don't blame the head of NSA for lying to Congress; he only did it because he knew Congress would let him get away with it. In a sane, rational world in which Congress is made of sane, rational people, he'd have been impeached and removed from office withing 48 hours of Congress finding out he'd lied. But, since we have the Congress we have, he knew there would be no repercussions and he could lie with impunity. So, whose fault is it that he lied: His, or Congress's?

    Same with judges who let police officers lie to them. I don't fault the police for getting away with what they know they can get away with; I fault the judges who let them get away with it. One well-publicized case of a police officer being held in contempt and jailed for lying to the court would work wonders for police integrity going forward.

  35. Chris K. says

    @Kirk Taylor • Jul 25, 2013 @7:44 am

    @jb • Jul 25, 2013 @7:59 am

    I respectfully disagree. I've been to quite a few other countries myself.

    The difference I have found is the difference between theoretical freedom (here) and practical freedom (there)

    Here we supposedly have these protections via the BoR but in actuality they are trampled on a daily very visible basis.

    There (not going to mention specific places, just that I've found a couple), the governments may in fact be tyrannical but they are so inefficient/ corrupt as to be useless.

    I would suggest I've been to countries where typical Americans are afraid to go where I have gotten along better with a live and let live attitude and less interaction with all levels of state power than living here in the US for the last 34 years.

  36. amber says

    Secret laws are enforced by secret courts at which you, the defendant, need not be present, nor represented. The secret evidence is usually withheld from both you, and your legal counsel, even during the trial.

  37. jhitesma says

    when the US government wants to torture a suspect it first sends the suspect to a black facility overseas to do so. This started under Bush and continues under Obama.

    Really? Seriously? You honestly believe it started under Bush? I find that rather hard to believe. It may have been more publicized under Bush but I can't for one second believe it hasn't been going on for a LOT longer.

  38. Luke G says

    @BradnSA

    Phony in what way- do you think they are not scandalous or that they didn't happen at all?

  39. Owen says

    @Chris K.: "There (not going to mention specific places, just that I've found a couple), the governments may in fact be tyrannical but they are so inefficient/ corrupt as to be useless."

    So you prefer a country that lacks protections regarding your liberties simply because it's not yet efficient at stamping out those liberties yet? And that's what you call "practical freedom?"

    Additionally, I have to disagree with your premise that there are governments that are so wholly incompetent that they can't abuse their citizens. Would you mind identifying these places you're referring to? I can't imagine that there is a country that doesn't have the ability to employ an abusive police force, or use the military to execute people at whim.

  40. amber says

    @Xoshe

    Until circa 1950, in the United States, a cop that drew his service revolver, was a cop that was considered to have failed to preserve the peace. The service revolver was considered to be a backup. Something to be drawn only as a last resort. Using it was a public admission that emotions ruled.

    Statistically, a cop hired in 1940 would have not only not drawn their service revolver, but would never have participated in an operation in which any cops drew their weapons, however, a cop hired in 2000 will be involved in a situation in which at least one cop drew a weapon, once a year, and will draw their own weapon at least once every five years.

    That the cop hired in 2000 draws their weapon, is merely a reflection of the refusal of police academies to provide adequate training. A properly trained cop could walk into the middle of a gun fight between two different sets of Crips, arrest everybody in both sets, without carrying any weapons. Biut doing that lacks both the machismo, and intimidation factor that contemporary law enforcement thrives on, as a means of covering its utter incompetence in basic law enforcement activities.

  41. Xenocles says

    @mcinsand-

    I have not read the book, but from what you say I have little to disagree with the author on. I guess I was just saying that while success would have been disastrous, the fact that he failed puts the court-packing effort rather below his other actions.

  42. Jonathan says

    A properly trained cop could walk into the middle of a gun fight between two different sets of Crips, arrest everybody in both sets, without carrying any weapons. Biut doing that lacks both the machismo, and intimidation factor that contemporary law enforcement thrives on, as a means of covering its utter incompetence in basic law enforcement activities.

    I completely agree that many contemporary police officers have the unmistakable odor of machismo. But this scenario is the most egregious hyperbole.

    I don't think it's useful or helpful to suggest that cops are out to get us, or that they should somehow be able to resolve already violent situations without ever making recourse to violence. I think it is helpful to suggest that modern police forces seem to be raised on a steady diet of suspicion and musclebound authoritah, and to question is this is good for our society.

  43. bradley13 says

    Just a quick reply to the earlier posts about getting out. I left some 20 years ago, though not for this reason. Looking from the outside in, with first-hand experience of living in (three) European countries: the situation in the US is even worse than you think it is.

    It's also true that the US has global reach. In particular, it makes life ever more intolerable for Americans abroad. I finally handed in my passport in disgust. I still follow the news, and blogs like this, in a kind of horrible fascination.

  44. Nick says

    The IRS subjecting 501(c)3 groups to further scrutiny based on the higher likelihood of political activity (because of an overtly political name) would be…the IRS doing its job.

    This is not an overreach. It happened to both right- and left-leaning groups. This is not news. 501(c)3 groups SHOULD be investigated if there is a possibility that it is not, in fact, primarily a social welfare group and instead is primarily political in nature.

    If you did something this stupid on your tax return (e.g., if you started a nonprofit and named it "My Vacation Fund"), you would expect to be audited. Corporate entities do not deserve special exemption, period.

    Oh, and none of the permits were denied either. Apparently there is just a crapload of social welfare out there.

  45. Mark says

    @Chris K. "I respectfully disagree. I've been to quite a few other countries myself."

    Anecdote is not the singular of data.

    Believing that our government is so "inefficient/corrupt as to be useless" is how we got into this mess. That's a horrible and stupid thing to lay your trust in. The inefficient and corrupt regime in North Korea seems to be doing a fine job abusing 90% of their people rights everyday.

    I'll take draconian enforcement of a rights-strong law-base over laissez-faire enforcement of draconian laws.

  46. Chris K. says

    Owen • Jul 25, 2013 @10:43 am

    Yes Owen, I care about living my life unmolested, fuck me right?

    I hesitate to mention places, for a couple of reasons. One I don't want to get into a big debate about it and two, I might want to go there and like having it be a scary place to Americans.

    Clark mentioned above and I'm sure you know of hundreds of instances where "protections" aren't worth the parchment they are printed on.

    So who cares about the theoretical "protections" when they don't matter. Give me the practical not having to interact with the state any day.

  47. doublejay says

    @Jonathan

    That's how they sell them to us, though. Don't you watch popular TV, where the good guy Cops always triumph over Them, the Evil Criminals? They might be loose cannons that don't play by the rules, but goddamn it they're the best cops the chief has ever seen, and it's okay since the other guys are bad anyway and that damn judicial system with all its laws getting in the way isn't going to let them off on a technicality this time.

    I see plenty of public advisory ads about drunk driving and the like showing cops as tough enforcers, always watching (coming out of the walls, literally, in that one ad) and always keeping wrongdoers in line. But where's the ad with the cop helping someone change their tire on the side of the road, or giving someone directions around town?

    I'm pretty sure they don't actually do that any more, though; you'll get a ticket for parking on the shoulder, and you're sure to get lip from a cop that ain't your tour guide buddy. But they could at least try to make it look like they are a positive influence, directly helping the community they supposedly serve, rather than a negative influence only there to keep people in line and throw the troublemakers in jail. It wouldn't necessarily change the character of their constituency, but a good role model could at least give the public the image of a higher standard that cops should be held to.

    Or maybe not. People seem to be okay with cops hurting rather than helping, and I have no idea why. If the cops will do no good for you, then why support them at all?

  48. BradnSA says

    Anyone think the police got worse after they got rid of height requirements? Command presence and all of that.

  49. Chris K. says

    Mark • Jul 25, 2013 @11:33 am

    I didn't suggest it was conclusive, just my experience.

    You can keep your draconian everything. I'm not interested in any of it.

  50. Luke G says

    @BradnSA

    Based on your other comments I'm thinking I fell victim to Poe's law in my first response and you are just being sarcastic. I mean, there's no way someone actually thinks that scandals are phoney because the guy that they make look bad says they are phoney.

    If I'm wrong and you are serious, then *facepalm*

  51. BradnSA says

    @Luke,

    I wish there was a sarc button. Now I'm off to look up Poe's law.

    The entire government is a debacle, and only my lib friends think I'm singling out Obama when I say it.

    Just a sad state of affairs all the way around.

  52. mud man says

    @Kevin
    Vegetables are useful. "A polemic about Cucumbers will not satisfy hunger."

    @En Passant
    Yeah? So?

  53. says

    ◾in the US ignorance of a law is not an excute

    in the US ignorance of a law will get you executed.

    in the US ignorance of the law will qualify you for a career in law enforcement.

  54. Rob says

    Nick • Jul 25, 2013 @11:26 am

    The IRS subjecting 501(c)3 groups to further scrutiny based on the higher likelihood of political activity (because of an overtly political name) would be…the IRS doing its job.

    This is not an overreach. It happened to both right- and left-leaning groups. This is not news. 501(c)3 groups SHOULD be investigated if there is a possibility that it is not, in fact, primarily a social welfare group and instead is primarily political in nature.

    That's complete horseshit. First, even the administration said it only happened to ~30% of progressive groups…but to 100% of conservative groups. And second, when challenged to provide documentation backing up their assertion that progressive groups were treated similarly to conservative groups, the administration came up with basically nothing.

    Organizing For America, formerly Obama For America, whose mission is to promote Obama's legislation, sailed through without a hitch during the same time period. The same with dozens of other progressive 501(c)4's and (c)3's who's mission statements were pretty much identical in scope to the conservative groups that got stalled indefinitely.

  55. Jonathan says

    @Clark,

    The US is a global government, with a reach that controls every square meter except inside Iran and North Korea.

    Just saw this. Seems pretty hyperbolic. I suppose it isn't that important, but I'm wondering what you mean by 'controls' here. What do you make, for instance, of the US government's apparent failure to convince either Hong Kong or Russia to detain Snowden? An example of their limited control over foreign lands, perhaps?

  56. Chris K. says

    @Jonathan • Jul 25, 2013 @1:41 pm

    You are correct there and I love to see other governments basically telling FEDGOV "snort my taint".

    But he is right, when you take into account how FEDGOV wants "know your customer" data for every transaction worldwide. They label it anti-terrorism and anti money laundering. But what it really is is insuring tax compliance on foreign invested American assets and income.

  57. wumpus says

    @amber
    One of the reasons that cops didn't need to use side arms before the 1950s was that the preferred means of executing "troublemakers" for the crime of being black was by hanging. I suspect they were drawn under these cases.

    It should also be pointed out that at that time there was no way that either rappers nor talk radio could suggest shooting cops. The first amendment existed to allow officially approved speech and Protestantism (Catholics could say the "Our Father" in school … as long as they said the Protestant way).

    There also is the issue that with the internet you can often tell what is happening in real time, the inverse of the Nazi approach of "night and fog". I remember reading a book that described FBI tactics written for an assumed friendly audience and included examples where accused communist spies that weren't useful for sending back bad data were simply murdered on the spot (no way to determine the accuracy of said examples). The internet seems to have allowed the first population to succumb to a police state while watching it happen. Also, "back in the good old days" something like the following simply existed in his hometown as a stereotype, not a meme:
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/07/23/pennsylvania-police-chief-fck-all-you-libtards-out-there-you-take-it-in-the-a/
    [and I don't do facebook so I can't check this…]
    https://www.facebook.com/login.php?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fchiefkessler%2Fposts%2F355751244528373
    [apologies if the above turn out to be very, very, wrong.]

  58. Owen says

    Chris K.: "Yes Owen, I care about living my life unmolested, fuck me right?"

    I think that, for the most part, people who communicate in derivative memes aren't saying anything worth taking seriously.

    You say you'd live in a place that completely lacks protections for fundamental freedoms and liberties because they're too inefficient to crush them out currently. That's something like choosing to live with someone who wants to kill you, but his aim is too bad – he may not be able to shoot you today, but he'll get better. Or he might just get lucky.

  59. Chris K. says

    Owen • Jul 25, 2013 @2:35 pm

    You say you'd live in a place that completely lacks protections for fundamental freedoms and liberties because they're too inefficient to crush them out currently. That's something like choosing to live with someone who wants to kill you, but his aim is too bad – he may not be able to shoot you today, but he'll get better. Or he might just get lucky.

    Yes, I prefer to live in a place with someone who has bad aim than someone who ONLY PRETENDS they would never do such a thing and even has a fancy parchment to prove it, but secretly poisons me little by little every night.

    Fuck me, right?

  60. Chris K. says

    I prefer to not live behind a delusion that the parchment means anything. And I am just as alone and on my own as I would be every where else in the world.

  61. Xenocles says

    Country A has no guarantee of free speech but has shown no interest in infringing on it since the inception of its current form of government. Country B has a firm guarantee of free speech but has increasingly nibbled around the edges of it. Which is preferable?

  62. Chris K. says

    "The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer." Kissinger.

    But you keep putting your faith in that parchment.

    Extrajudicial killings of Americans abroad? 5th,6th,8th amendments.
    Tapping of every phone call made? 4th amendment
    Paramilitary cops commandeering peoples homes because of domestic violence next door? 3rd amendment
    Federal asset forfeiture pre-trial? 6th amendment
    obamacare's individual mandate? 9th, 10th amendment
    free speech zones? 1st amendment.

    Those things could never happen here…

    /Lee Greenwood not available for comment

  63. Chris K. says

    @Owen • Jul 25, 2013 @2:35 pm

    I believe it was Scott Greenfield (I may be mistaken) who said "if you believe in the social contract theory of government (and I do not) then the Constitution is that contract."

    And when the other party as a matter of everyday business undermines said contract what obligations do you have to it exactly?

    And more importantly why do you still believe the contract has any weight?

  64. says

    @Jonathan

    The US is a global government, with a reach that controls every square meter except inside Iran and North Korea.

    pretty hyperbolic. I suppose it isn't that important, but I'm wondering what you mean by 'controls' here. What do you make, for instance, of the US government's apparent failure to convince either Hong Kong or Russia to detain Snowden? An example of their limited control over foreign lands, perhaps?

    The US, through hard diplomacy, soft diplomacy, or something else:

    • chased Snowden out of Hong Kong
    • kept Snowden in Russian extrajudicial territory
    • grounded the Bolivian presidential plane
    • intimidated Iceland into forbidding a flight to its territory
    • etc

    I think it was Vox Day who said: "to find out how many sovereign nations there are in the world, count those that offered Snowden asylum, then add one for the United States".

    Hyperbolic, but also astute.

    you asked what I mean by the word "control"?

    I mean that if the US cares sufficiently about something about any place in the world except Iran and North Korea, it can use some form of leverage (gain or loss of most favored nation trading status, gain or loss of foreign aid, gain or loss of membership in various NGOs) or direct violence (drone strikes, Special Forces teams, etc.) to get what it wants.

    It has a span of control that no country has ever had in the history of mankind.

    I don't say this in some sort of conspiracy-theory sense : I think it's just a simple statement of fact.

  65. Jonathan says

    @Clark,

    The US, through hard diplomacy, soft diplomacy, or something else:

    chased Snowden out of Hong Kong
    kept Snowden in Russian extrajudicial territory
    grounded the Bolivian presidential plane
    intimidated Iceland into forbidding a flight to its territory
    etc

    Perhaps I was just fooled, but I got the impression that the US didn't want Snowden out of Hong Kong? That they wanted/expected that he would be held by the local authorities, or at least not permitted to leave.

    Regarding Russia, I suspect his extra-judicial predicament has less to do with US desire and pressure than it does Russian dithering about how to proceed/buying time as they extract intel from the poor guy.

    The last two, I think, are probably closer to the target.

    I think it was Vox Day who said: "to find out how many sovereign nations there are in the world, count those that offered Snowden asylum, then add one for the United States".

    Hyperbolic, but also astute.

    Hyperbolic and, I think, not astute. It is not only possible but certain that many foreign powers' goals and wishes often align with "ours". I applaud Snowden and am rooting for him, but it's not hard for me to see how many foreign, sovereign, powers as an unattractive candidate for asylum (even while enjoying the benefits of his whistle-blowing activity) for reasons all their own.

    It has a span of control that no country has ever had in the history of mankind.

    Well, I basically agree with this. I would replace the word 'control' with 'influence' but, it's a semantic distinction that isn't really important enough to fight over. A question of degree.

  66. Kurly_B says

    @ Chris K.
    I agree with you, and I left 7 years ago.

    The funny thing about the international news, in reference to the US, is rather different to the news reported in the US. The bias, the rhetoric, the ideology, the drama, it's all missing for the most part. I don't keep up with the news in the US mainly because I don't want to know how far the US has slid into '1984'. People in the US are too close to the forest to see the trees.

    I'm not saying that other places are better, hell the country that I live in is like the wild west, rules apply to the people they want to apply them too, very peripatetic, unnerving on occasion, and can be down right scary. But I rather have that then the 'Washington Gods' blessing me or pissing on me.

    The power is the money, and the money is their power. Don't for one second think that it's not true. Money buys influence, and the US spends plenty abroad to keep it's 'Allies'. Backend deals, intimidation, and simple 'monetary gifts' to the local politicians is all it takes.

    But the US is bankrupt, morally and finically. So They become more warlike, and clamp down the their population to protect the asses. Ever wonder why drones are becoming the 'must have thing' to the US military, they will not refuse orders….. They will do anything that their masters say. Kill every third person on Wall Street, or Main Street, or Your Street. This is the last gasp of the Republic, for which it stood. All Hail the New Lords of Merica.

    If you think I'm paranoid, cool. I don't care. You can keep it, my family's bled enough for the US, and I mean literally. All the majors up to and including the current ones.

    And another thing, My wife gave birth to our 1st child a year ago, and I went to get my daughter a visa to visit her grand parents in the US, and was told by the US Embassy that she has to be registered as an American Citizen, because she is entitled to it, and will not be granted a visa, even through the 2010 Immigration Act states that 'a visa is to be granted to naturalize a American Citizen born abroad before return to the US'.
    I have yet to register my daughter, and probably won't.

    I'm a simple guy, no high school diploma, no college to speak of, just 'white trash' kinda upbringing, born in the south. There's an old saying, 'I love my country, but fear my government'.

    As the ancient chinese curse says, May you live in interesting times.

    Indeed.

  67. Rob says

    he funny thing about the international news, in reference to the US, is rather different to the news reported in the US. The bias, the rhetoric, the ideology, the drama, it's all missing for the most part. I don't keep up with the news in the US mainly because I don't want to know how far the US has slid into '1984'. People in the US are too close to the forest to see the trees.

    You've got that precisely wrong. There is ALWAYS bias. Their bias is simply different than ours; it's the bias of outsiders filtering something through a different lens, blissfully unaware of context and filtered through their own worldview. It only looks like clinical detachment if you have no personal knowledge about what's really happening. The same as when our newsies attempt to report on foreign events.

    There is and never has been any such thing as an unbiased news report. That news organizations were able to convince so many people that there ever was has to be one of the biggest frauds committed in last couple hundred years.

  68. barry says

    The US is a global government,

    Global reach and clout, but thankfully not global government. The CIA kidnappers in Italy are still convicted criminals. Mr Bob made the mistake of going to Panama and got arrested last week (I thought they were going to trade him with Venuzuala to trade for Snowden, but they let him go). They're probably OK as long as they stay in America

    I've lived places where the cops had guns, and places they didn't have guns, and felt a lot safer where they didn't have guns (they can easily radio for cops with guns, which might discourage people wanting to escalate a situation).

    'Freedom' comes in various flavors. In some countries everyone has the freedom to walk on any beach they like. In others, anyone (who can afford it) is free to own a beach and stop everyone else from walking on it. As long as the propaganda that 'type #2 freedom is the only true freedom' is working, your freedom of the beaches is limited.

    The view that "This place must be the best because there are places that are worse" is just plain wrong, in an illogical kind of way (but seems common). There's places on earth where people have more chance of being killed by a terrorist than by an American, but you don't want to go there.

    On Snowden: The White House keeps saying he is 'not a 'human rights activist' without explaining if it's because they don't consider privacy to be a human right, or because he's not active enough. But it's important that they keep saying it because if he is, his 'crime' is political, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says he has a right to asylum outside America (and that privacy really is a human right).

  69. Matthew Cline says

    @Noah Callaway:

    You are not subject to the secret laws (that we know about), you are the subject of them. The secret rulings expand the government's power, and how it can interact with you. However, the laws aren't binding on us.

    While I agree with you, just imagine if there was secret interpretations of laws about what citizens were required to do or not do:

    "We, the government, can't tell you who has been arrested based on these interpretations, because then the Enemy would be able to deduce what the secret interpretation is. The resemblance to 'being disappeared' is only supperficial, since what we're doing is totally legal and constitutional, honest; the expalanation of why it's legal is top secret, so you'll just have to trust us. John Doe? Yes, John Doe was arrested based on the secret interpretation. Turns out he's totally innocent, but unfortunately, while being questioned he deduced the secret interpretation of the law, so he's going to have to stay locked up and with no communication with anyone until the interpretation is declassified."

  70. InnocentBystander says

    Clark, have you actually read the TIGTA report? Because, I clearly see the office of special council's role explained in the report and timeline. That was part of the initial disclosure of the issue. Was this reference, supposed to be about Issa's use of a congressional committee to package and spin an old fact with a "new visual" and
    innuendo to get the IRS and his political donation machine back online?
    http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2013reports/201310053fr.html

  71. InnocentBystander says

    If your point was about the misuse of congressional power in the IRS hearings, I think you should include the slander of the IG by Rep. Cummings. Both sides are showing why congress has such low approval ratings.

  72. Kurly_B says

    @ Rob
    true, but I mean bias as in trying to sway the listener with newspeak.

    EX 1 – Obama said "whatever" Translated into many languages.
    EX 2 – Obama, standing in front of the flag, eyes gleaming towards a bright future for everyone that voted for him, said "whatever".

    EX 1 is what most of the world gets. EX 2 is what you get.

    Hell in the 2008 elections, Voted for him sort of, my overseas ballot was late getting here. Not sure if it counted. Didn't vote in last one.

    There is no easy answer to this saga, just the haunting words from an old song….
    'Teach your children quietly, for someday sons and daughters, will rise up and fight why we stood still'

    This is the legacy that we give to our children. And their children's children. The more will we allow to go wrong, the harder it will be for them. Traded liberty for security and a yoke around the neck. To use the Patriot Act rally cry, 'Just think of the children'.

  73. En Passant says

    mud man wrote Jul 25, 2013 @1:14 pm:

    Yeah? So?

    So growing vegetables is a wonderful thing. I've done it myself.

    But I have no illusion that even that innocent act will minimize the unwanted attentions and ministrations of bureaucrats. In fact, growing one's own vegetables might even place one on some ambitious bureaucrat's list of things to do.

    Nonetheless, growing one's own vegetables is its own reward, made moreso by enjoying the musings in the Vegetable Root Discourses.

  74. max (small m) says

    when the US government wants to torture a suspect it first sends the suspect to a black facility overseas to do so. This started under Bush and continues under Obama.

    It started under Clinton (per your link, even) but got as much attention when Clinton was president as it does now that Obama is president. wrt extraordinary rendition, Bush is only noteworthy for it coming to public attention when he did it, he was not the first or most prolific user or anything otherwise notable.

  75. Anony Mouse says

    "in the US ignorance of a law is not an excuse"

    Likewise in most every government since ancient Greece.

  76. That Anonymous Coward says

    And we wonder why there were people willing to sign up for what they knew would be a 1 way trip to settle Mars.

  77. barry says

    I get it now. All the time the White House was saying Snowden was 'not a human rights activist', Putin was saying he should 'stop his political activity', implying Russia did consider his 'crime' to be political, and therefore had the right to asylum.

    It wasn't that Putin necessarily thought Snowden should stop his activity, but was saying that International law trumped American law in his patch of the world.